When the snows began to clear what a delight it was to see brave little snowdrops in the early morning sun. The purity of their little white bells and vibrant green leaves reminded me, despite my love of good strong colors in home decorating, that shades of white bring a sense of calm and tranquility, of hope and optimism. They present the Hamptons homeowner with a blank canvas on which to draw their creative vision through artwork, furnishings and personal pieces. These homes, however, require space and a sense of order to work their magic. (Think of John Lennon’s white baby grand in his white on white Dakota apartment overlooking Central Park’s natural splendor.) A messy environment is easier to hide with a back drop of darker colors, less light and more stuff. White rooms require, and offer, breathing space.
The dining area and kitchen above were created by Canadian remodelers Domicile, based in Ottawa. They have used natural light streaming in through the oversized windows to open up a relatively compact kitchen area used for a formal dining. The white walls, trim, drapes, upholstery, cabinetry, rug and lighting are complemented by the natural tones of sea mist back splash tiles, bright green foliage and the warm oak parquet flooring. The darker wood of the dining table and accessories opposes the lovely white tones and providing balance. An elegant and contemporary arrangement, clean yet comfortable. Perfect for Hamptons living.
House Beautiful magazine in 2012 featured a traditional white on white Savannah living room designed by Lynn Morgan (photographer Christopher Baxter). White walls and trim, upholstery, lamps, fireplace surround, porcelain garden stools and hydrangeas are viewed against the natural fibers of a sea grass rug and enhanced by the sky blue cushions, artwork and modern ottoman. Beautiful greens are used around the fireplace and on the throw cushion. Ms Morgan was seeking a simple, clean lined room, inviting but with a little bit of glamour and a lot of comfort. Again, a good use of natural light from the unadorned large traditional sash windows.
This airy and restful, white ‘Zen-like’ bedroom was photographed for last year’s Country Living magazine by Gridley and Graves. The room has simple white wood wainscoting and ceiling timbers and wide plank flooring, natural and rustic. The bedding, blinds and throw are all white giving a serene feel to what has to be the sanctuary in any Hamptons home – uncluttered and peaceful for a good night’s sleep. The large green palm, honey colored cheetah-print wicker chair and ottoman extend the natural theme of the design and provide contrast in this light filled room. The dark brown key line feature on the white cotton comforter ties the whole room together perfectly. A room to escape to from the frenzy of Summer in the Hamptons.
This final room from Traditional Home is not strictly white on white as the walls have been painted a subtle pearl grey, almost white! The custom cabinetry is all white with simple key line trim, the wood trim of the windows and doors is white, the counter tops white marble with grey veining. Sea glass colored, textured tiles adorn the splash back. Sunshine yellow canisters give a optimistic feel and harmonize with the yellow-green contemporary stools next to the island, bringing a shot of energy to the more traditional styling. The drop down pendant lights with crystal shades continue the light, airy and open feel of the whole design.
Whether your Hamptons home is traditional or contemporary layering whites in rooms, especially those with natural light in abundance, creates an air of pleasing tranquility. Benjamin Moore offers 150 shades of white, the most popular being Simply White, Moonlight White, Cloud White, White Dove and Super White. Go to Kelly and Olive’s blog to gain an understanding of the strengths of each shade, used frequently in their own decorating assignments. Tim McKeough of Elle Décor offers his top picks – Benjamin Moore’s Linen White, Sherwin -Williams’ Dover White, Farrow and Ball’s Pointing, Five Paints of Europe’s Hollandlac Brilliant White and Valspar’s Du Jour. Or take a bunch of snowdrops to your nearest paint distributor and ask them to match the ever so delicate gentle white of these perfect little harbingers of Spring.
Helen Lind is an interior decorator, organizer and home stager working in Long Island and Manhattan. You can contact her at (516) 922-3518 for a proposal or consultation, or visit her online at englishivyinteriors.com.